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Simple hacks for everyday problems that need fixing

Simple hacks for everyday problems that need fixing

Use these quick fixes for those annoying little problems that get in the way of your day, from storing wrinkle-prone clothes to preserving your phone's battery

Food

Pouring red wine into ice cube traySave leftover wine for cooking by freezing it in an ice cube tray

Keep bananas fresh

Can’t use the whole bunch yet? Rather than having to throw out a few that end up getting too ripe, put them in the refrigerator when they have started to soften. The cold will help bananas stay at their peak for another week.

That said, avoid refrigerating bananas that aren’t quite ripe, as it will stop the natural ripening process.

Get more juice from a lemon

Pop any citrus fruit in the microwave and you’ll not only make it easier to squeeze, but you’ll also get more juice overall.

Microwave for ten to 30 seconds, depending on the fruit’s size—a large grapefruit will need longer than a lemon—and be sure to let the fruit cool before handling it.

Put extra wine to use

Freeze leftover wine in ice-cube trays to add flavour to future sauces, stews and more.

White and sparkling work best in creamy or clear soups, while red wine goes well with tomato- or beef-based dishes such as chilli.

Add about one ice cube per serving.

Make frozen fish taste fresher

If you want the fish that has been in your freezer to taste like it was freshly caught, soak it in milk while it’s defrosting, then cook it. You’ll limit any fishy odour, too.

Cars

Yellow car door covered in rainMake sure you shop for a used car on a bright day—rain can cover up scratches in the paintwork

Don’t overfill your engine

A few more drops of petrol can’t hurt, right? Not so fast—the automatic shutoff valve is there for a reason.

Petrol needs room to expand, so topping off can cause pressure to build up in your fuel tank and lead to a dangerous leak. Better to just stop when the pump does.

Undo dents

Before you pay a body shop to take a small dent out of your car, lifehacker.com suggests that you place a plumber’s plunger over the dent and pull it out gently. You may need to wet the plunger first to help it stick.

Don’t buy a car on a rainy day

Looking for a used vehicle? Go on a clear day. It’s not about slippery roads for the test drive; it’s that rain can hide scratches and other imperfections.

Other things to look out for, no matter the weather: difficulty opening the doors, trunk or hood.

And keep an eye out for paint being a slightly different shade inside the trunk compared with the body of the car; that indicates if the car may have been in an accident.

Health

Woman massaging eyebrows to relieve tension headachePress the pressure points on your eyebrows to relieve tension headaches

Inhale to de-stress

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, step outside—or open a window. Researchers say getting more oxygen to the brain is a quick and effective stress reliever.

“Taking in a deep breath of fresh air can immediately shift your neurochemistry,” says Deborah Serani, a psychology professor at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, and the author of Living with Depression.

Relieve an eyestrain headache

Try some acupressure on a pressure point known as Yu Yao. Using the tips of your fingers, press the middle of each eyebrow for a minute, then release. This can also help alleviate the tension that builds up from blocked sinuses.

Change your shoes

Who among us hasn’t fallen in love with a pair of super-comfortable shoes and proceeded to slip them on day after day? While that may feel good, you aren’t doing your feet any favours.

New York City podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera says that wearing the same shoes day after day can cause foot fatigue because you’re constantly using the same areas of the foot for support and walking.

Make sure you have a few pairs of comfortable shoes and rotate through them.

Cleaning

Water ring on wooden tableApply petroleum jelly to remove watermarks from wooden furniture

Remove water stains from wood

Did your most recent party leave your wood furniture with rings? To make them disappear, apply petroleum jelly and let it sit overnight. When you wipe it away in the morning, the marks should be gone.

Get rid of sweat stains

Those unsightly yellow stains that can show up on the underarms of white shirts are pretty easy to remove. Before you launder the shirt as usual, try one of these methods.

Crush two aspirin tablets and mix the powder into half a cup of warm water, then soak the stained fabric in the solution for a few hours.

Or you can combine equal amounts of lemon juice and water, and use it to scrub the stain away.

A third option is to mix one part dish soap with two parts hydrogen peroxide, scrub the discolouration, then let it sit for an hour.

Clean paint with hand sanitiser

Did you make a mess while doing some painting around the house? Here’s a handy fix for paint stains: hand sanitiser. Its high alcohol content makes it a great solvent for latex paint.

Pets

Meowing cat climbing up owner's legUse blackout blinds to keep your cat from waking you up too early on long summer days

Test your dog’s hydration

To quickly check whether your dog is drinking enough water in hot weather, gently pinch the skin around his or her neck.

“It should snap back down,” says Nicole Ellis, a pet-lifestyle expert at rover.com. “But if the dog is dehydrated, it’ll go down very slowly.” Do it once on a temperate day so you have a healthy reference point.

Stop sunrise meows

Many cats are early risers during the longer days of summer. Should you feed your pet when he meows? No—that will just encourage his untimely entreaties.

Instead, install blackout shades or blinds to block the sun. Then stick to strict feeding times: once in the morning and once in the evening.

Let your dog brush his own teeth

Does your dog refuse to let you brush his teeth? Give him a toothbrush chew toy.

Made of natural rubber, they have a reservoir to hold flavoured pet toothpaste, which, together with the bristles on the outside, will clean your pup’s teeth while he plays.

Keep your cat off the couch

Cats are sensitive, and you can use their texture preferences to guide their behaviour.

If you’ve got a rascal who likes to spend the night sleeping on your new couch or prancing across the kitchen counter, cover the surfaces with a sheet of aluminum foil before you go to bed.

Cats hate that texture and will soon learn to find a new, more agreeable perch.

Home

Iron on tin foilPlace tin foil under your ironing board cover to heat up your iron more quickly

Prevent hanger creases

Don’t you hate it when you use a nice wooden hanger for your pants and still end up with a big crease in them? There’s a cheap and easy way to avoid that: bubble wrap.

Wind it around the hanger bar a couple of times and secure it with tape. The bubbles will cushion even the most wrinkle-prone fabrics, including linen.

Pick up bits of glass easily

Collecting the larger pieces of a broken glass or dish is usually easy enough, but picking up tiny slivers and shards can be tricky. A slice of soft bread pressed over the area will easily pick up those stray bits.

Freeze off candle wax

If you’re struggling to get a melted candle stump out of its holder, put the whole thing in the freezer. After about an hour, the wax will shrink away from the sides, allowing you to pop it out with tweezers or a knife.

Make quicker work of ironing

The hotter your clothes, the faster you’ll smooth away the wrinkles. One good trick: put a piece of tin foil under your ironing board cover.

The foil will reflect some of the heat from the iron back up to the fabric and smooth out the wrinkles more efficiently.

Lower your energy bill

When you get home on a hot day, do you turn your air-conditioner’s temperature dial way down to cool the place quickly?

That’s not a good idea, because your AC can work only so fast; reducing its temperature setting by too much will just waste energy since the appliance keeps cranking chilly air after the room has reached your ideal setting.

You’ll save on energy costs by simply keeping it set to your preferred temperature.

Technology

Blue light on device keeping woman awake at nightSwitch off your phone's blue light at night to get better sleep

Preserve your device’s battery

It sounds counterintuitive, but unplugging your laptop, smartphone or tablet can help save its battery.

The capacity of the lithium-ion batteries most of these devices use diminishes slightly with each charging cycle, so keeping them plugged in when you don’t need to degrades the battery capacity more quickly. Aim to keep the charge between 50 and 80 per cent.

A good strategy? Plug your device in first thing in the morning, recommends Tim Katsch, former vice president of a tech repair company. Once it’s charged, unplug it for the rest of the day.

Get a better sleep

The blue light emitted by your smart devices can suppress melatonin production and inhibit sleep.

To reduce the amount of blue light coming from your device during screen time in the evening go to Settings on your iPhone or iPad, then Display & Brightness, and turn on Night Shift.

For Android devices, look for Night Light or Blue Light Filter.

Find a lost browser tab

There’s something especially maddening about clearing out dozens of open browser tabs and accidentally closing the one you actually need.

On a PC, control+shift+T will restore the most recent tab you closed, as many times as you need. Mac users should hit command+shift+T.

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